Textile History – Plain Weave, Twill, Satin

A textile is a woven material that is flexible. True to its form, it comes from the Latin word textilis meaning woven. It consists of artificial and/or natural fibers which are called yarn or thread. Creation of yarn in itself is tedious. It is produced through the spinning of raw fibers of cotton, wool, and flax. Scholars suggest that as early as 34,000 BC, there were already evidence of humans utilizing fabrics from the fibers of dyed flax. They were found inside a cave in Georgia and were believed to be some kind of felt fabric. Now the textile industry has evolved into a billion-dollar business where its three main staples are the major stars: satin; plain weave, and twill. Let’s get to know each of them.


Satin came from the medieval Arabic name of Quanzhou which is Zayton. At that time, the port city of Quanzhou is the epicenter of the finest silks in all of China, and perhaps in all of Asia. Medieval Arabs found their way to create a textile using these silks. Nowadays, options in making this textile now include polyester and nylon. Satin is best known for its features of glossy surface and a dull back. To achieve this or if you need circular knitting needles, weavers have to use the technique warp-faced wherein the warp yarns are to be floated over the weft yarns. The warp goes over the wefts, resulting to a very soft surface. It’s of no wonder that this textile is needed in making athletic shorts, nightgowns, evening gowns, neckties, baseball jackets, and blouses.

Plain weave

The most basic among the three textiles, plain weave’s earliest evidence dates back to 27,000 years ago in Dolni Vestonice, Czech Republic. It was incorporated in nets and basketry. To do a plain weave, the weft and warp should be aligned. This will form into a pattern that was accustomed which is criss-cross. The weft should cross the warp thread alternately- over the warp, then proceed to under, and so on (until you finish all thread). A type of weave that most weavers create is the balanced plain weave. Also called “one-up-one-down weave”, the process requires the equal weight of the weft and warp threads. Another type of weave common amongst the creators is a “Basketweave”. In this type, threads (in two’s or more) are grouped, then woven. It wouldn’t be a basketweave of both of its sides look different.


If you happen to notice a textile that showcases a pattern of parallel ribs in a diagonal direction, then you’ve just checked a twill. To make a twill, cross the weft thread over one warp thread (or more). Then, proceed to cross under two (or more) warp threads. The result is a diagonal pattern that’s well recognized by textile lovers everywhere.

There are two sides of a twill- technical face and; technical back. The former is utilized for the visible side since it has a more pronounced pattern. It’s more attractive and more durable. Twills are seen in chinos, tweeds, and denim to name a few.